Well, isn’t this interesting. The subdomains claimed in patent no. 6,687,746 are rejected as obvious by the USPTO in a third-party re-exam of the patent.
I do note that this rejection is not a final office action. The patentee has some time to respond to it and try to convince the Examiner to back off on the rejection. However, under KSR v. Teleflex, persuading the Examiner to do so may be … um … challenging. It’s interesting to note that KSR was decided in 2007; the patent application had long been written by the time this decision came down — which, of course, means that the sands are shifting under the feet of patent holders.
If the Examiner stands his ground and upholds the rejection, the patentee can then appeal to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences and/or to the US District Court in Washington DC, and thence to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and on up to the US Supreme Court, if the Supremes grant certiorari. The patentee can stop the appeal process at any time, making the final decision just that … final.
If the rejection stands, the patent will be invalidated. Invalidating this patent will open the claimed subdomains up to the public domain.